* I am apologizing now for the length of this post. Sorry, It was Italy. I couldn’t help it.
Last Week, Megan and I decided to take a trip to Italy. Our gentleman friends had a CEV cup volleyball match against Italian Serie A team Monza. Seeing as how Monza is but a few kilometers from Milan…we kind of had to go.
While I had visited Milano previously, this was Megan’s first time. I remembered really liking Milan. It’s not Florence or Rome, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s vibrant and diverse, while still maintaining a bit of that Italian charm. Of course, any opportunity to visit Italy should be snatched up.
Beyond the history, art, fashion, 1 euro coffees, pasta and vino – can we talk about the weather? In the short time I’ve been in Berlin, I’ve already begun to miss sunshine. Grey days might recall a bit of romance to a city…but a spoiled California girl misses her sun. Milano did not disappoint.
After a 4am start in Berlin, we were checked-in, on a tram and headed into the heart of Milano by mid morning Wednesday.
We began with the Duomo. Apart from being one of the largest cathedrals in the world. The thing is made of marble. MARBLE. It’s so intricate and ornate, it’s no wonder it took half a millennium to complete.
One of those silly touristy things to do in the Galleria is to find the mosaic of the bull, dig your right heel into the area where the bull’s testes should be, and do a little twirl. Apparently it brings good luck. I’m not sure what the deal is, but I feel like I’ve been several places where the “good luck charm” involves touching breasts or testes. Odd.
By this time, we had worked up an appetite, so we strolled over to the famous Luini for panzerotti. Basically, panzerotti are baked or fried pieces of dough with cheese and salami or tomatoes or whatever you want folded in all warm and gooey. There’s a continuous line at Luini, but it moved quickly. Soon enough we had our warm panzerotti, walked over to a glorious patch of sunshine, and munched on a truly delicious lunch.
Satiated, we walked through the quadrilatero della moda. Comprised of moderately priced stores, and ridiculously ballin designer storefronts, this area offers you the opportunity to destroy your credit score in a couple of different ways. Not to worry, Megan and I exercised self control. I’ll have to admit there’s something surreal and giddy about pawing through shoes emblazoned with the “Prada Milano” label whilst in an actual Milano Prada store.
As we finished up our fashionable jaunt, we wound up in front of La Scala, the famous Opera house. In the piazza facing the landmark, a statue of DaVinci stands. In anticipation of our Thursday appointment to see the Last Supper, we posed in front of Leonardo.
The next morning, we awoke early to make our appointment at the church Santa Maria Delle Grazie to view DaVinci’s Last Supper. As the painting is so famous and fascinating, you must make reservations to view the masterpiece. Nabbing one of the fifteen minute visitation slots can be nearly impossible during peak season when most travelers must reserve months in advance. However, our mid-winter trip enabled us to book our slot just a few days beforehand.
With morning traffic, the tram we hopped on painstakingly plodded along leaving us with mere minutes to make our time slot. Arriving in the nick of time (to the chagrin of the ladies working the ticket desk. Seriously rude), we charged in. Limiting the number of visitors in each time slot ensures that each visitor is given the time to come up close, and get a good, long contemplative look at the painting. It’s breathtaking. What you see below is NOT the painting. It’s a replica just outside of the actual room. After seeing the real thing- it frankly looked like garbage.
DaVinci painted as if the scene took place in that actual room. The light and scenery in the picture was meant to feel as it would occur naturally in the room. It fairly pops off of the wall. You could spend hours studying the facial expressions, and meaning of every image in the painting. Given that DaVinci used a painting technique suited for hours of contemplation and revision, it practically begs for a similarly lengthy appreciation.
After the Last Supper, we made our way toward more shopping. Megan was on the lookout for boots and a coat. After entering a few shoe stores, we noticed something odd. In nearly all of them, the merchandise is beautifully positioned to be admired from the street. However, when you are in the store, there are no shoes displayed for perusing. I’m not sure I understand this situation. Are you supposed to memorize what you like outside before you enter? Not diggin it.
In making our way back to the hotel, we found ourselves on an hour long trek through the residential, and decidedly NOT cafe-lined streets of Milan. Exhausted, we rested up before hopping on a train to the city of Monza, about twenty minutes away. Fueled on Nutella & Go snacks, we walked around Monza’s charming streets before heading to the boys’ CEV cup game. The outcome of that match is not worth discussing. Let’s just hope that some revenge might occur on Thursday in the second match-up.
After two busy days, Friday was more relaxed. First, we headed to Castello Sforzesco. Known for its dense and bloody history, with museums and exhibits enough to occupy you for days, we were nevertheless content to simply stroll around the castello in the beautiful sun.
After another pasta dinner, we went for dessert at Shokolat. Earlier in the afternoon, we had dropped in for gelato, and observed other patrons enjoying towering cups of hot chocolate. Thinking this to be a perfect treat to cap the trip, we ordered two. There were a few issues. One, the suckers were 5 euro. Two, they were not hot. Three, it was like thick chocolate soup, and difficult to drink. While the chocolate was tasty, it was far too rich to consume the whole cup. Having had two gelatos earlier, we probably didn’t need to have that whole thing anyway.